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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

21 March 2007

21/03/2007 - BJJ

Class #42

Roger Gracie Academy (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 21/03/2007

Like Felipe yesterday, Jude went through the armbar from guard and the armbar escape. However, as tends to happen when both instructors show the same thing, Jude taught it slightly differently, which meant there were some useful hints to be had. For instance, Jude noted that as you bring up your knee in order to free your arm and also stop them rolling you over, you should also bring the knee of your other leg up to their head. That provides you with enhanced control and thereby facilitates the pass. Jude also emphasised pushing up with your hips when going for the armbar from guard.

I already liked the drill where one person goes for the armbar and the other does the escape, as it means both training partners are working rather than just one of them drilling a technique. Jude then made it even better by adding a third level, as Person A does the armbar escape. As soon as Person A pushes Person B’s legs to the floor, Person B immediately shrimps out, posting off Person A’s hip. Person B then shrimps the other way to recover guard, or potentially go for a triangle if Person A ends up with a single arm in and the other out.

However, unlike yesterday sparring wasn’t from the mount, and neither was it ‘king of the hill’, which is great because it meant I got more time to work technique. In fact, I got the best of both worlds, because I was in a group of three, meaning I had a rest between rolls, but not an overly long wait.

My partners were Olly and Owen, both from the advanced class and with a significant strength advantage, especially Olly. I had an interesting time of it guard passing today, because with both Owen and Olly I found myself in a position to pass but couldn’t finish. Mainly, I was having trouble pushing the knee out and sinking down into side control – each of my partners was able to get their knee back through and thereby return to guard.

In addition, Owen was unusual in the beginners class in that he appears to good at using the open guard. He repeatedly trapped my arms by pushing on my biceps, hooking my forearms, even pushing into my neck. I remembered the last time someone did that to me, and tried to employ the advice I got then (which was to keep my elbows tight inside his legs and attempt to bring his knees together), but couldn’t quite manage it.

Fortunately for me, Jude was observing the spar, and gave me lots of tips. Of particular importance was moving my hips: I wasn’t driving forward with them (brought home by the way that Owen was able to get that basic standing sweep where you grab the ankles, something I don’t think I’ve fallen prey to before), instead getting tied up and straining with my arms, which is stupid as clearly Owen’s legs are a lot more powerful than my weedy biceps (ok, so his arms are much stronger too, but you get the point :p). I also needed to think more carefully about my grip when my opponent had a firm hold on my leg. I was holding Owen (or Olly, can’t remember when this came up) round their neck with my right arm in a far grip, but what I should have been doing was holding with my left closer to my body. As Jude demonstrated, this makes for a far more secure defensive position.

Jude went so far as to get one of the guys from class to walk through what he was trying to show me. If I understood him right, then along with that grip on the neck and using my hips, I should also be thinking about pushing on the knees when I got to the knee on belly position, shifting round into side control. With both Olly and Owen, I was concentrating too much on pulling round with my arms to drag myself into side control, rather than opening up space by pushing on their knees and using my hips to move into position.

So all in all, a very educational spar today, not to mention a particularly challenging session due to the efficacy of Owen’s open guard. Its something I should consider trying when I’m next on my back, as that might help me move away from clinging like a limpet in closed guard. On the other hand, holding someone at bay with the open guard takes skill, but then the only way to learn is to give it a go.

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